BJP’s Raghubar Das was sworn in as the state’s 10th chief minister by Jharkhand Governor Syed Ahmed on Sunday morning. Das, who will represent the Jamshedpur East constituency in the 81-member legislative assembly, is the first non-adivasi among the six men to ascend to the position.
The 59-year-old will also head the first of Jharkhand government, since the state’s formation on November 15, 2000, to be formed with the support of only two political parties. BJP and AJSU Party have a total of 41 legislators, one more than the required majority.
— Dr Raman Singh (@drramansingh) December 28, 2014
The importance of the occasion was not lost on the state unit of the BJP, which proceeded to hold the proceedings outside the Raj Bhavan premises for the first time in the state. The Birsa Munda football stadium, with a capacity of 40,000, was chosen for the occasion; all of the pitch as well as half the lower tier was packed.
Modi skips oath taking ceremony
However, the audience had to go without the biggest draw of the day: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tweeted earlier in the day that Delhi’s weather had prevented him from making the trip. Also missing was BJP president Amit Shah. The organisers did their best to make up for Modi’s absence by placing his cut-outs and pictures all around the venue; except for a few Jharkhandi heroes, not even CM-designate Das featured among them.
Was to travel to Jharkhand to attend the oath taking ceremony of Shri Raghubar Das but am unable to do so due to weather conditions.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 28, 2014
The first initiative of the new CM was to travel to the Karamtoli locality of Ranchi and follow in Modi’s footsteps by taking part in a Swachh Bharat initiative. Minister and Ranchi legislator C.P. Singh as well as Mayor Asha Lakra accompanied him. Later in the day, he chaired his first cabinet meeting.
Union ministers and BJP leaders Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Ram Kripal Yadav, Radha Mohan and Sudarshan Bhagat attended the event. Also present were Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh – whom the BJP expects Das to emulate – and Maharashtra CM Devendra Phadnavis. Sushil Modi, BJP leader and Bihar’s Opposition leader, was onstage. Union minister Jayant Sinha, an MP from Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh, was conspicuous by his absence.
Four ministers were sworn in with Das; Jharkhand can have a total of 12, including the CM. Nilkant Singh Munda, an adivasi and an Arjun Munda nominee, was the first to take oath after the CM. He was followed by former assembly Speaker C.P. Singh, AJSU Party representative Chandra Prakash Choudhary and Lois Marandi – another Munda choice who defeated former CM Hemant Soren in Dumka. Das, never a mass leader during his political career, will have to deal with the clout of three-time-CM Munda, who was defeated in Kharsawan.
There was a sour note struck when Jharkhand’s first CM and former BJP leader Babulal Marandi was not given an appropriate seat at the venue. Marandi, who did not complain, had to eventually sit in the enclosure for journalists along with his party’s legislative party leader Pradeep Yadav. Marandi had on Saturday met BJP president Shah, who offered him a chance to merge his JVM-P into the BJP, thus providing more security to the government with its eight legislators. Marandi, defeated from both constituencies he contested from, rejected the offer.
Various adivasi organisations observed a bandh for the second consecutive day protesting the appointment of a non-adivasi CM.